Adrian Rogers - Who is Jesus?
I want to talk to you today about Jesus, and be finding Colossians chapter 1, when you've found it, look up here and let me speak to you. Colossians chapter 1. Some time ago you watched, as I watched, the program hosted by Peter Jennings, "The Search for Jesus". As a matter of fact, I watched for a while and then could not take it any longer. And I turned it off and walked out of the room. I had just as soon watch a group of men with a bag over their head in a cave with a jar full of lightning bugs try to find the noonday sun as to watch these people talk about their search for Jesus. The reason they never really came down with anything definitive is they were looking in the wrong place. He's there to be found if you want the authentic, the real, the genuine, very Son of God.
Bryant Gumbel was interviewing Larry King on CNN. And Bryant Gumbel asked Larry King this question: "If you could ask God only one question, Larry, what would it be"? Larry King said, "I would ask Him if He has a Son". Very interesting. Great question. Answer: Yes. He does. And His name is Jesus. John Blanchard has estimated that of all of the people who have ever lived since the dawn of civilization, only a handful have made any real, lasting impression; have actually changed the world. And of that handful of people, there is one who stands head and shoulders above all of the others, and His name is Jesus. More attention has been given to Him. More devotion has been given to Him. More criticism has been given to Him. More adoration has been given to Him. More opposition has been given to this one person than all of the others.
Every recorded word that He said has been sifted, analyzed, scrutinized, debated, every word, than all of the historians and the philosophers and the scientists put together. Yet, He was here 2,000 years ago. And after 2,000 years, there is never one minute on this earth that millions are not studying what He said. Think about it. Here's a person who lived in a miniscule, tiny little land two millenniums ago, and yet His birth divides the centuries: AD, BC, "Before Christ" and "Anno Domini," the years of our Lord. He never wrote a book that we know of, and yet library after library could be filled with the volumes, the multiplied millions of volumes that have been written about the Lord Jesus. He never painted a picture so far as we know, and yet the world's greatest art, the world's greatest dramas, the world's greatest music, the world's greatest literature has Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth at its source.
Jesus never raised an army so far as we know, yet multiplied millions have died for Him. He never traveled very far from His birthplace, and yet His testimony has gone round and round and around the world. He only had a handful of little followers that followed Him there in His ministry, and yet today over 30% of the world's population name His name, the largest such grouping on Earth today, Jesus of Nazareth. A ministry of only three short years, public ministry, and yet here we are, 2000 years later, saying, "Jesus, Your name is wonderful," because His name is. He had no formal education. He didn't attend a university or seminary and yet thousands of universities and seminaries, colleges, and schools are built in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and in my estimation, in my humble but correct opinion, no one can call himself, herself educated who does not understand Jesus Christ.
The great historian Kenneth Scott Latourette said this. Listen to this quote, "Jesus has had more effect on the history of mankind than any other of its race who ever existed". That's not a Baptist preacher speaking there. To explain Jesus Christ is impossible. To ignore Jesus Christ is disastrous. To reject Him is fatal. Understand who Jesus Christ is. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to be radically, dramatically, and eternally changed, to be transformed. I'm talking about who is Jesus. Human speech is too limited to describe Him. The human mind too small to comprehend Him, and the human heart can never really, completely, totally absorb who Jesus Christ is. Let's read Colossians 1 verse 12, "Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet," or fitting, "to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light".
Now, folks, that's talking about you. He's talking about your inheritance. If somebody wealthy left you a legacy, would you not be interested? Then pay attention to Colossians 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son". Larry King, there's your answer. God does have a Son, and God says, "He is My dear Son". And He has a kingdom.
Now let's talk about the inheritance that we have. Colossians chapter 1 verses 14 through 21, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins; Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him, and for Him; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead," and here's the key to it all, "that in all things He," Jesus, "might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him," that is, in His Son, "should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him," by Jesus, "to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in Earth, or things in Heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled".
We're going to talk a little bit now about the Lord Jesus Christ, that in all things He might have pre-eminence. He doesn't want a place in your life. He doesn't wish for prominence in your life. He deserves and demands pre-eminence. Three reasons I want to give. They're right here before us. Reason number one: Jesus reveals the Father. Jesus reveals the Father. Look in Colossians 1 verse 15. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. God is Spirit, invisible, unfathomable, unapproachable. How are we going to know God? Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The visible Jesus makes the invisible God known. The word image is the word icon. We're going to talk about that in a moment. How are you going to know God? Not by reason.
How are you going to know God? Not by religion. How are you going to know God? Not by ritual. You're going to know God only by revelation. And Jesus Christ has come to reveal God to you. You can never fully know God the Father apart from God the Son. Now look again at Colossians 1 verse 15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature". Put those two words; now lock your mind on those two words: image and firstborn. Colossians 1:15, image and firstborn. The word image is the Greek word icon. You have a computer; you have icons on your computer. It means a representation.
Now, Jesus is the icon of God. The Greek word means the exact representation. Jesus is the express image of the invisible God. He is the icon of God. And go to Colossians chapter 2 and verse 9. See how Paul sums it up there, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily". All of God was in Bethlehem's babe. He is the icon, the express image of God. Do you want to know God? Friend, Jesus Christ has cornered the market. He has a monopoly on revealing the Father. That's the only way you're going to know God. Let me give you a verse. Put it in your margin, Matthew chapter 11 and verse 27. Here's what Jesus Christ Himself said, "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him".
Now either that's true or it's not true. I believe it's true. He says, "Nobody knows My Father but Myself, and you can't know Him unless I introduce Him to you". That's a big statement. Why? Because Jesus is the express image of God. You're never going to figure God out. How can the finite understand the infinite? Not by reason, but by revelation. Any other god that you worship is the god of your guesses, and that's a form of idolatry. You don't conjure up some god to worship him. Jesus came to reveal the Father. You say, "Well, Pastor Rogers, that's narrow-minded". Well, you know, you can be so broadminded your mind gets thin in the middle; be so open-minded your brains may fall out. I want my doctor to be narrow-minded. I don't want him to say, "Well, you're sick. Here are ten bottles of medicine. Let's just take one of them, see what happens".
I want my airplane pilot to be narrowminded and not try to land with the landing gear up. I want my banker to be narrow-minded. But in the thing that matters the most, my eternal destiny, I think I'm not ignorant to want a little certainty. Yes, you can't know the Father apart from Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't say, "I'm a way;" He said in John 14:6, "I am the way". He didn't say, "I am a life". He said, "I am the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life". You see, God was manifest in the flesh. My pastor friend Jerry Vines imagines Jesus Christ going into the temple and having a conversation with the teachers when he was a 12 year-old boy. And one of the learned doctors there strokes his beard and says, "Son, how old are You"? "Well," He says, "on My mother's side, I'm 12 years old, but on My Father's side, I'm older than My mother and as old as My Father".
You see, He was both God and man. Now on His mother's side, He got thirsty; on His Father's side, He said, "I am the water of life". On His mother's side, He got hungry; on His Father's side, He took a little lad's lunch and fed five thousand. On His mother's side, He was homeless and didn't have a place to lay His head; on His Father's side, He owned the cattle on a thousand hills. On His mother's side, He wept at the grave of Lazarus; on His Father's side, He said, "Lazarus, come forth," and raised him from the dead. He was God in human flesh. That's the word image. Look at the word: firstborn, there in verse 15.
Now don't get the idea that firstborn implies a beginning. Jesus never had a beginning. There never was a time when Jesus was not. Jesus said over there in the Gospel of John in chapter 8 verse 58, "Before Abraham was, I AM". Not "I was," "I AM". He is the great I AM. He never had a beginning. He has always existed in a state, never a start. He didn't have His beginning at Bethlehem. What does the word firstborn mean? The word firstborn speaks of honor and privilege, as God said of David in Psalm 89 verse 27, "And I will make Him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the Earth". Firstborn speaks of His exalted position. Look in Colossians 1 verse 17, "And He," Jesus, "is before all things". He could not be created. Why? Because all things were created by Him. It is obvious that whether there're things in Heaven, things on Earth, everything was made by Jesus and for Jesus.
And so, you want to know God the Father? Would you like to know what the great, invisible God is like? Who He is? Would you like to know His heart? Friend, Jesus reveals the Father. Thank God for that. Second point. Not only does Jesus reveal the Father, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn, the highest of all creation, and above all creation. But secondly: Jesus rules the future. Jesus rules the future. Begin now in Colossians 1 verse 16 to verse 20, "For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him; And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him," now watch this, "to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in Earth, or things in Heaven".
Now what is this talking about? It's talking about One who rules the universes, One who not only has this whole world in His hands, but He has the past, the present, the future in His hands. People ask, "What is the world coming to"? Answer, "It's coming to Jesus". It is coming to Jesus. "All things were created by Him and for Him," and will all climax in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now let me point this out just a little bit. First of all, he says Jesus is the power of creation. Look if you will in Colossians 1 verse 16. Jesus is the power of creation, "For by Him were all things created". He is the power of creation. The little baby in Matthew 1 is the mighty God of Genesis 1. There was nothing made without Him.
John tells us in chapter 1 verse 3, "All things were made by Him". "Adrian, don't you believe in evolution"? Not for a skinny minute. No. I don't believe in evolution. After I've studied, I wouldn't believe in evolution even if I weren't a Christian. It's the next best guess of those who do not know the Word of God. Now if evolution is true, you have problems with the Scripture. If the Bible can't tell me from whence I have come, how can it tell me where I'm headed? You have trouble with salvation. If there's no creation, no Adam and Eve, no Garden of Eden, there was no fall into sin. If there's no fall into sin, there's no need for a new birth. Man's just progressing onward and upward. But Jesus said in John 3 verse 7, "You must be born again".
If Genesis 3 is a myth, John 3 is a farce. You have problem with salvation. I'll tell you something else. If you believe in evolution, you're going to have problems in society, and that's why we have so many. As we've often said, you teach the boys and girls they come from animals, it ought not to surprise us that they begin to act like animals. Listen. It was all made by Jesus. Do you think all of this just happened? Do you think it's just by some random chance; it all came out of some primordial ooze that came out of lifeless matter? There's a book out you need to read called, "Darwin's Black Box".
You know, all scientists and inventors of sort of pseudo-scientists and selling snake oil or whatever, they have a little black box, and they say, "Well, you can't look in there. That's my trade secret". Well, Michael Behe just kind of pried open Darwin's Black Box. And I don't want to get too complicated, but he talks about irreducible complexity. You take life and just reduce it back till you can't reduce it any simpler. And when you look at the simplest part, it is so complex that there's no way possible that just one cell could have come about by evolution, because all of the components in that one cell are interdependent. It takes one for the other to be there.
Now in that one cell, you have rods known as chromosomes. And in these chromosomes you have genes, or your genetic makeup. And that's determined by something today that we call DNA. And they look now at the DNA and they say, "There's a mind there. There's intelligence there. There's design there. There's not randomness there". In the DNA, in one cell, one cell, there is enough information, if printed in books, it would take six hundred thousand books to write down the code of the DNA that is in one of the trillions of cells in your body. That determines your intellect, the color of your hair, your personality, all of those things encoded right in there. Who did all of that? Jesus. "All things were made by Him". He, friend, is the power of creation. I'll tell you something else: He is the preserver of creation.
Look in Colossians 1 verse 17 of this same chapter, "He is before all things, and by Him all things consist". Do you know what the word consist means? They stick together. Jesus Christ is the glue of the galaxies. What is it that keeps it all from falling apart or coming apart? Jesus. Jesus is the One who feeds the sun with its fuel. Jesus is the One who guides the planets in their orbit around the sun. Jesus is the One who has set out all of the stars. Talk about natural law. There's no natural law. They're the laws of Jesus that nature obeys. It is by Jesus that all things consist. I was looking at Isaiah chapter 40 and verse 26. Listen to it. A great verse, "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold Who hath created these things". Sometime, take time on a dark night to go out and look up. That's what He says, "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold Who hath created these things".
Do you think that everything came out of nothing? You say, "I can't believe in an eternal God". Do you believe in eternal, inanimate matter? Now listen to this, "He bringeth out their host by number;" he's talking about the stars, "He calleth them all by names". I was listening to the radio, they said, "You want to give a Christmas present? We'll name a star after you. You choose somebody, and we will name a star for that person, and we'll put it in a book". Friend, too late. Too late. Every one of the billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions, and I could go on till the service ends, Jesus has named every one of them. He is the preserver of creation. He guides it all. Light travels at 186,282 miles per second. How fast is that?
All right. Let's hijack a light beam and travel around the Earth. Been around the Earth seven and a half times right there, around the circumference. You want to go to the sun? The sun's 93 million miles away. You can be there in eight and a half minutes, traveling on a light beam. You want to go to the nearest star? It would take you four and a half years, traveling at 186,282 miles per second to get to the nearest star. Friend, that's 27 trillion miles away. And that's the closest one. There are more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy. To go from side to side, rim to rim, in our galaxy would take you 100,000 light years, traveling at 186,282 miles per second. Who did that? His name is Jesus. His name is Jesus. He's the One by whom all things consist. He is the power of creation.
And, friend, He is the preserver of creation. And He is the purpose of creation. Look if you will now in Colossians 1 verse 16. Look at it, "For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him," now watch it, "and for Him". Why all of this? Did you think it was for you? No, it's for the Lord Jesus Christ. "For" is a preposition that speaks of direction. It's the Greek word "ice," "moving in the direction".
Now we in America have been invaded by Eastern religions. Eastern religions are circular. Everything goes round and round and round and round. That's the reason they believe in reincarnation. I've always thought reincarnation was putting the milk back in the can. You'll get that later. They believe in reincarnation. That is, everything is circular. And so, you have to live with good karma. And if your karma is not good, then in your next life you may come back as a roach. But if you've been good, you might come back as a cow. That's the reason they don't eat meat. You might be eating your grandmother. Now they believe that it's all circular. But it's not circular. It is all headed in a direction. The Bible is linear. We're moving to the time when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ.
That's the reason He taught us to pray in Matthew 6 verse 10, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth, even as it is in Heaven". I can hardly wait. And by the way, think of what's going on today in history. Let me give you a verse my wife pointed out to me. I've been living on it. Isaiah chapter 33 verse 22, "The Lord is our Judge," He, "the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King". Got it? Judge, Lawgiver, and King. What are the three parts of our government? The judiciary, the judge; the legislative, the lawgiver; and the executive, the king. Did you know Jesus is all three? You talk about a balance of power. He doesn't need any balance of power. He is the power. The Lord; He is the Judge, He is the Lawgiver, He is the King. And then it says, and this is Isaiah 33 verse 22, "He will save us".
Friend, it is all headed to Jesus. It is all for Him, for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the key to the mystery of history. I'm told that a young man was taking a philosophy course. He'd studied and studied and studied, and came to the final exam, and the philosophy professor had a little bit of a sense of humor. Wanted to see how much philosophy these young people knew, how well they could think. The final examination was one word: "Why"? A student thought for a while, wrote one word down, and walked out: "Because". I would add two more words: "Because of Jesus". Because of Jesus. Because of Jesus! He is the mystery of history. Why is it all made? "All things were created by Him, and for Him; and by Him all things consist". And history has a date with deity.
Last thing of these three things I want to lay on your heart. Not only does Jesus reveal the Father, not only does Jesus rule the future, but Jesus, thank God, reconciles the fallen. That's why He came. Look in Colossians 1 verses 18 to 21 now, look at it, "And He," Jesus, "is the head of the body, the church; Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself by Him, I say, whether they be things in Earth, or things in Heaven. And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet hath He reconciled". That's so wonderful. This Jesus who declares the Father, this Jesus who dominates the future, this is Jesus who delivers the fallen, who reconciles God and man.
You see, Christians are not just nicer people. They're not just people who give intellectual assent to certain doctrinal things. But you have to see the contrast. I mean, what is Paul saying? Paul is saying, "Look, He is the One who made everything. He made it all. It all belongs to Him. And yet He hung naked on a cross". Think of it. "God, the mighty Maker, died for man, the creature's sin". You have to get it in its context. You have to understand what he's talking about. He's set you up. He's telling you how great, how awesome, how mighty is Jesus, and then he speaks of the blood of His cross. He died on a cross. The One who made every seed, every limb, every tree, He dies on a tree. The One who made the oceans and the fountains, and the rivers and the streams says, "I thirst". The One who flung that sun out into space is the One who's blistered by the noonday sun. He is dying. His death and His deity are put together. Other people have died, but friend, it is His deity that makes His death meaningful. And it is His death that makes His deity knowable. The two are together.
When Jesus created the universes, He did it with His Word. He said, "Let be," and it was, and universes sprang from His fingertips. But when He saved us, it took every drop of His blood. He didn't have to do that. Larry King, He does have a Son. He died for you. He's not the Jesus of some fingerbumping philosopher; He's the Son of God revealed in the pages of His Holy Word. He's the One that took my sin, your sin, our sin to the cross, and there made peace with the blood of His cross. And on His cross He took sinful man with one hand, holy God with the other hand, and reconciled God and man. A woman was dying. They didn't know who she was. She was in a hospital, apart from friends and family. They said, "Get a minister".
The minister came in, bent down and whispered in her ear, "They say you're dying. Have you made peace with God"? She shook her head. They huddled a while and came back, and the minister, wanting to press the point, said, "Dear lady, you're dying. Don't you think you need to make peace with God"? She shook her head again in the negative. The third time they said, "You need to make peace with God". She said, "No, I don't. I am resting in the peace that Jesus has already made". I cannot make peace with God. Jesus made peace with the blood of His cross. And what we need to do is to enter into that peace by faith and trust the Lord Jesus.
Now I've come to the end of the message. What is the bottom line? Listen to it. Don't miss it, Colossians 1 verse 18, "That in all things He may have the pre-eminence". Question to you: does He have pre-eminence in your life? Ellis A. Fuller was one of our great preachers of yesterday. Ellis Fuller had a girl that he loved very much and wanted to marry her. Let me tell you how he proposed to her. He said to her, "Would you be willing to take second place in my life"? Jesus is, and always will be, number one. Joyce knows she's not number one in my life. She knows she's number two, and she'd much rather have it that way because she knows that I can love her in a way that I never could love her if she were number one. Does Jesus Christ have the pre-eminence in your life? If not, what right do you have to call yourself a Christian? "That in all things," everything, "He should have the pre-eminence". Who is Jesus? Friend, He's the Jesus of this Book.
Would you bow your heads in prayer? How many of you can say, "Pastor Rogers, I know that I know if I died today, I know on the authority of the Word of God because I have repented of my sin, trusted Christ, and God's Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I'm a child of God, I know that if I died today, I'd go straight to Heaven"? Now I asked you that because I wanted you to consider. If you could not say "Yes," I want to guide you in a prayer. And in this prayer today, if you will sincerely pray it and mean it, Jesus Christ will save you. Pray this way:
Dear God, I'm a sinner and I'm lost and I need to be saved. I need to be reconciled by the blood of Jesus to You. I open my heart. By faith I embrace Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Come into my heart. Forgive my sin. Save me, Jesus.
Did you ask Him? Thank Him:
Thank You for saving me, Jesus. I receive it by faith. And now I will not be ashamed of You. I will make it public if You will give me the strength, and I know You will. In Your name I pray, Amen.